Cat Soohorang of PyeongChang

Cat of the Month ~ February 2018

Soohorang the cat is the Olympic Winter Games mascot. He is the Official mascot of the 2018 Winter Olympics (9-25 Feb) and of the Paralympics (9-18 Mar) in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Soohorang, mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Soohorang, the mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Photograph: © www.olympic.org

Soohorang, the Olympic mascot, made his debut in July 2017, during Olympic events in both Seoul and PyeongChang. Gunilla Lindberg, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, said of choosing a white tiger to be the 2018 Olympic mascot,

It’s a beautiful animal, strongly associated with Korean culture. It also symbolises the close link between the Olympic Winter Games and the natural environment. I’m sure the new mascot will be very popular with Koreans and people around the world.

Athletes who win medals at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are honored in two separate ceremonies, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first one happens directly after the event, and is when the athletes get their stuffed tiger….”instead of flowers, medalists are being given a doll of the Games’ mascot Soohorang.” The origin of the motif is the famous (and endangered) South Korean white tiger. The white tiger has been long considered Korea’s guardian animal.

“Sooho”, meaning protection in Korean, symbolises the protection offered to the athletes, spectators and other participants of the 2018 Games.

“Rang” comes from the middle letter of “Ho-rang-i”, the Korean word for “tiger,” and is also the last letter of “Jeong-seon A-ri-rang”,

a cherished traditional folk song of Gangwon Province, where the Games will be held.

Soohorang not only has a challenging spirit and passion, but is also a trustworthy friend who protects the athletes, spectators and all the participants of the Olympic Games.

Well worth being cat of the month then Eh Osc?

And just to round this all off nicely (we hope) here are a few more images relating to our friendly cat Soohorang.

A Korean White Tiger
A real majestic white tiger
Photograph: © Koreaboo
Red Gerard the slopestyle Gold medallist, holds his own Soohorang doll
Red Gerard the Slopestyle Gold medallist holds his own Soohorang doll ~ And what a run it was!
Photograph: © www.olympic.org
Brad Barket/Getty Images
A tourist needs a selfie with the said cat
Photograph: © Brad Barket/Getty Images
soohorang and bandabi
Soohorang with his companion Bandabi (Mascot of the PyeongChang Paralympics)
Photograph: © www.olympic.org
olympic rings logo

The Kodkod cat

Cat of the Month ~ January 2018

The tiny Kodkod Cat or Guigna (Oncifelis guigna) is one of the worlds smallest and least known cats, and is in fact the smallest cat in the entire land mass of North and South America combined.

kodkod cat in the wild
a spotted kodkod cat in the wild

These felines are found in central and southern Chile, from Santiago to Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael (a distance of well over 2000 kilometers), and also in western Argentina (generally on the west coast of South America). Information about the ecology of Kodkod is largely anecdotal. Guignas have one of the smallest geographical distributions known for any felid, and therefore any information gathered by scientists or local people can improve our knowledge and assist in further steps in conservation.

The kodkod has a small head, large feet, and a thick tail. The length of a typical adult is around 45 centimetres, with a short 20 to 25 centimetres tail and a shoulder height of about 25 centimetres. The weight of a fully grown animal is between 2 to 2.5 kilograms (5 pounds).

The coat has a base color ranging from brownish-yellow to grey-brown. Guignas have black spotted gray fur, black dorsal stripes on their necks, and bushy, banded tails. The body is decorated with dark spots, with a pale underside and a ringed tail. The ears are black with a white spot, while the dark spots on the shoulders and neck almost merge to form a series of dotted streaks. Melanistic Kodkods with spotted black coats are quite common.

Kodkods are strongly associated with mixed temperate rainforests of the southern Andean and coastal ranges, particularly the Valdivian and Araucaria forests of Chile. These forests are noted as having bamboo spread under the tree canopy. These evergreen temperate rainforest habitats are the preferred areas for the Kodkod as they are less damp than deciduous temperate moist forests and coniferous forests. They are versatile and tolerant of altered habitats, being found in secondary forest and shrub as well as in primary forest. They will even be found on the fringes of settled and cultivated areas. In Argentina, for example, they have been recorded hunting in moist montane or mountainous forest, not thier preferred region, ranging up to the treeline at approximately 1,900 m (6,200 ft) in this and other areas.

A black Leopardus Guigna as photographed by Claudio F. Vidal
A black Leopardus Guigna, Photograph: Claudio F. Vidal

Kodkods are equally active during the day as during the night, although they only venture into open terrain under the cover of darkness. During the day, they rest in dense vegetation in ravines, along streams with heavy cover, and in piles of dead gorse. They are excellent climbers, and easily able to climb trees more than a meter in diameter. On the ground they stalk abd hunt birds, lizards and rodents in the ravines and forested areas, feeding on southern lapwing, austral thrush, chucao tapaculo, huet-huet, domestic geese and chicken.

In studies carried out it has been reported that male Kodkods maintain exclusive territories 1.1 to 2.5 square kilometres in size, while females occupy smaller ranges of just 0.5 to 0.7 square kilometres.

Whilst breeding, the gestation period lasts for around 75 days and the average litter size is one to three kittens. Also, they are known to live until they are around 11 years old.

The major threat to the Kodkod is logging of its temperate moist forest habitat, and the spread of pine forest plantations and agriculture, particularly in central Chile. In 1997 to 1998, two out of five radio-collared Kodkods were killed on Chilo Island whilst attempting to gain food from chicken coops.

There are two known subspecies of this cat:

  • Leopardus guigna guigna – found in Southern Chile and Argentina
  • Leopardus guigna tigrillo – found in Central Chile

The kodkod was formerly considered a member of the genus Oncifelis, which consisted of three small feline species native to South America. All of these species have now been moved into the genus Leopardus. Along with the Kodkod, the former members of Oncifelis were the Colocolo and Geoffroy’s cat.

Another Vulnerable Animal: Like the Iriomote Cat featured in our blog of July last year, the Kodkod cat is an endangered feline. Since 2002, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as the total effective population may comprise less than 10,000 mature individuals, and is threatened due to persecution, loss of habitat and its prey base.

Source: From Wikipedia & others

References:

1. BBC Television. Big Cats – Episode Listing (2018)

2. Small Wildcats. http://smallwildcats.com/ Please donate on this site ~ if you can afford it!

3. Book. Natural history and landscape-use of Guignas on isla Grande De chiloé, Chile

Author(s): Jim Sanderson, Mel E. Sunquist, and Agustin W. Iriarte, Source: Journal of Mammalogy

Foldex

The Foldex cat breed was established by cross breeding both Exotic Shorthair and Exotic Longhair breeds with the Scottish Fold breed – it’s distinguishing feature (which characterises the Foldex breed) is a highly rounded, gathered and folded pair of ears.

Cat of the Month ~ December 2017
foldex cat by bluesky
Foldex with the tell-tale ears
Photograph: © ‘blue sky’

The Foldex breed first appeared around 1992 in Quebec, Canada as an experimental breed. This cross breeding resulted is a new Persian type breed with folded ears. This animal made its first appearance in a show hall in 1993, being presented by Betty Ann Yaxley. On viewing and admiring this new feline Jeanne Barrette dedicated herself to work with this animal well into the future. Consequently the Foldex breed was accepted as an ‘Experimental Breed’ in November of 1998 and in August of 2006 it was accepted as a New Breed for championship (cat show) status. However it is only recognised by the Canadian Cat Association (CCA).

The Foldex breed has a shorter nose than the Scottish Fold breed. Their body type is sturdy and muscular with good bone structure, a stubby neck, round eyes and a round head that give the breed a very owl like appearance. The folded ears further make the cat a little like a small ‘teddy bear’. Fully grown the weight of this cat is around five to eight pounds. Coats are dense and soft to the touch and can be long or short. The Foldex breed comes in a large variety of colours and patterns.

a foldex cat
An inquisitive tortoiseshell Foldex
Photograph: © bdagarepa.com (breeder)

If allowed to breed these folded ear cats must be crossed with a straight ear cat. This must be done to avoid the potential skeletal defects associated with the breed. Suprisingly, all Foldex breed kittens are born with straight ears. At three to four weeks the ears begin to start to bend and then fold on many of these kittens. Many vets recommend that ears will require special cleaning care to prevent infections such as might living in the ear canal.

These felines are highly intelligent, inquisitive (of course), loving and noble cats. The make good house cats as they have a calm and docile temperament (close to that of the Exotic). While they are mostly quiet they often do like to get envolved with what’s going on in the house. The also like to play and interact with us humans when thye are in the mood.

a grumpy foldex cat
Grumpy Foldex Kitten 🙂
© Photograph: aliciapsf

The King O’ The Cats

The King o’ the Cats is a folk tale from the British Isles. The earliest known example is found in Beware the Cat, written by William Baldwin in 1553, though this story itself is related to the first century story of “The Death of Pan”.

Other notable versions of this cat tale include one in a letter written by Thomas Lyttelton first published in 1782.

M. G. (Monk) Lewis the English novelist and dramatist, told the story to Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816, and a further version was adapted by Joseph Jacobs, the Australian folklorist and writer, from several sources, including one collected by Charlotte S. Burne (the first woman president of the Folklore Society).

Walter Scott reported that ‘the King O’ The Cats’ was a well known nursery tale in the Scottish Highlands in the eighteenth century. It can be categorised as a “death of an elf (or cat)”. It is a common type of tale you can look up on the webpage Aarne-Thompson-Uther Classification of Folk Tales

“Well Osc I never knew that an “elf” was a cat! …. mind you you’re a bit of an impish elf yourself on occasion”

On to the story…I suggest you turn down the lights…and turn off all distractions … :- )

The King O’ The Cats

One winter’s evening the sexton’s wife was sitting by the fireside with her big black cat, Old Tom, on the other side, both half asleep and waiting for the master to come home.

They waited and they waited, but still he didn’t come, till at last he came rushing in, calling out, ‘Who’s Tommy Tildrum?’ in such a wild way that both his wife and his cat stared at him to know what was the matter.

‘Why, what’s the matter?’ said his wife, ‘and why do you want to know who Tommy Tildrum is?’

‘Oh, I’ve had such an adventure. I was digging away at old Mr Fordyce’s grave when I suppose I must have dropped asleep, and only woke up by hearing a cat’s Miaou.’

‘Miaou!’ said Old Tom in answer.

‘Yes, just like that! So I looked over the edge of the grave, and what do you think I saw?’

‘Now, how can I tell?’ said the sexton’s wife.

‘Why, nine black cats all like our friend Tom here, all with a white spot on their chestesses. And what do you think they were carrying? Why, a small coffin covered with a black velvet pall, and on the pall was a small coronet all of gold, and at every third step they took they cried all together, Miaou — ‘

‘Miaou!’ said Old Tom again.

‘Yes, just like that!’ said the sexton; ‘and as they came nearer and nearer to me I could see them more distinctly; because their eyes shone out with a sort of green light. Well, they all came towards me, eight of them carrying the coffin, and the biggest cat of all walking in front for all the world like — but look at our Tom, how he’s looking at me. You’d think he knew all I was saying.’

‘Go on, go on,’ said his wife; ‘never mind Old Tom.’

‘Well, as I was a-saying, they came towards me slowly and solemnly, and at every third step crying all together, Miaou –‘

‘Miaou!’ said Old Tom again.

‘Yes, just like that, till they came and stood right opposite Mr Fordyce’s grave, where I was, when they all stood still and looked straight at me. I did feel queer, that I did! But look at Old Tom; he’s looking at me just like they did.’

‘Go on, go on,’ said his wife; ‘never mind Old Tom.’

‘Where was I? Oh, they stood still looking at me, when the one that wasn’t carrying the coffin came forward and, staring straight at me, said to me — yes, I tell ‘ee, said to me, with a squeaky voice, “Tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toidrum’s dead,” and that’s why I asked you if you knew who Tom Tildrum was, for how can I tell Tom Tildrum Tim Toldrum’s dead if I don’t know who Tom Tildrum is?’

‘Look at Old Tom, look at Old Tom!’ screamed his wife.

And well he might look, for Tom was swelling and Tom was staring, and at last Tom shrieked out, ‘What — old Tom dead! then I’m the King o’ the Cats!’ and rushed up the chimney and was nevermore seen.

trad.

Blackie

Cat of the Month ~ September 2017
Blackie the cat in the sunshine
Blackie, enjoying the warm sunshine
Photograph: © Ed
Blackie is a faithful 3 year old domestic cat with great hunting ability. She lives in County Roscommon in the republic of Ireland where life is peaceful and slow for most. But if you are a bird or a mouse you’d better have your wits about you when Blackie is about! She is often seen depositing little presents on her cottage doorstep, accompanied by great howls of “look at me” and “a’rnt I a clever puss”.

Hey Osc, you could learn a thing or two from this here puss

Blackie the cat at the door
Blackie at the door, after food or some fuss!
Photograph: © Ed

The Iriomote Cat

Cat of the Month ~ July 2017
an iriomote cat prowling

An Irimote prowls on a tree branch

Photograph: © Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park

The Iriomote cat is probably a subspecies of the leopard cat or may be the sole member of an entirely separate genus (Mayailurus Iriomotensis)….who knows!

Iriomote live only on the small Japanese island of Iriomote or ‘Iriomote-jima’ and nowhere else on the planet. The island lies 200 kilometers to the east of Taiwan and has a total area of 113 square miles (292 sq km).

Iriomote cats have a dark grey and brown fur colour with lighter hair on the belly and insides of the limbs. The sides are marked with rows of dark brown spots, which often form into stripes around the neck and legs. It has been observed that the Iriomote cat has a relatively elongate and low-slung build, with short legs. The tail is dark brown (with a darker spots pattern on the back sides) whilst the underside of the tail is solid dark brown as is the very tip of the tail. It has rounded ears with black fur spread along the edges. Adult Iriomote cats have a white spot on the back of each ear, much like those found on tigers’ ears. Young Iriomote cats do not have these marks, and even as adults the spots will not be as white as those seen on other leopard cat subspecies. Its eyes are a light amber shade and there are two dark brown spots on each cheek.

Habitat

Iriomote cats have been seen in wooded mountainous areas, open country and even mangrove swamps and beaches along the island shores. They will though also climb trees, wade into water and even swim. It is thought to spend most of its time alone and, like many wild cats, is mostly nocturnal and especially active during twilight hours. During the daytime, they tend to sleep in tree hollows or in caves (out of the heat of the day and no doubt away from human disturbance). To mark territory they will urinate and defecate on rocks, tree stumps and bushes. Their home ranges vary from 1 to 7 sq km (or 0.38 to 2.7 sq miles) in area.

Food

Recent studies into the cat’s diet reveal that its prey includes animals such as fruit bats, birds, wild pig, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and crab. The cat also can swim well and will catch fish if the opportunity presents. It has been shown that these cats prefer areas near rivers, forest edges, and places with low humidity.
Iriomote cats are carnivorous and prey on various mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and crustaceans. They typically ingest 400–600 gramms (0.88–1.32 lb) of food a day. Other wild cats primarily hunt small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, but because there are no other carnivores to compete with the Iriomote cat on the island, there is no need for them to isolate themselves from the various habitats and food sources that are available. Thus, their diet is quite varied.

Mammalian prey includes black rats, Ryukyu flying foxes and young Ryukyu wild boar. Their prey also includes a wide range of birds, such as the spot-billed duck, slaty-legged crake, Eurasian scops-owl, pale thrush, and white-breasted waterhen. Reptiles include various types of snakes and Kishinoue’s giant skink. They are also known to hunt Sakishima rice frogs, yellow-spotted crickets and crabs. As their hunting grounds tend to be in swamps or on shores, they sometimes swim and dive to catch water birds, fish, and freshwater prawns.
When eating birds that are larger than a dusky thrush, most types of cats will pluck the feathers and then eat it, but the Iriomote cat will eat even large birds whole without removing the feathers. “How big is a dusky thrush Ed?”….no idea Osc… let me just look that up.

a pair of iromote cats in captivity

A Pair of Irimote cats, likely to be in captivity

Photograph: Source Unknown

Since the Iriomote cat mainly inhabits the lowland coastal regions of the island, the cat is in direct conflict with the island’s human population. Recent estimates have put the total Iriomote cat population to be as low as 100 individuals. The threats to this rare cat are loss of habitat, growing competition from the island’s feral cat population, and tourism.

Names

The Iriomote cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis) was discovered in 1965 by Yukio Togawa (戸川幸夫 Togawa Yukio), an author who specialized in works about animals. In 1967, it was first described by Yoshinori Imaizumi, director of the zoological department of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. However before its scientific discovery, the Iriomote cat was known locally by various beautiful names. In Japanese, the cat is called Iriomote-yamaneko (西表山猫, “Iriomote mountain cat”). In local dialects of the Yaeyama language, it is known as yamamayaa (ヤママヤー, “the cat in the mountain”), yamapikaryaa (ヤマピカリャー, “that which shines on the mountain”), and meepisukaryaa (メーピスカリャー, “that which has flashing eyes”).

This small cat has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008, as the only population comprises fewer than 250 adult individuals and is considered declining. As of 2007, there were an estimated 100–109 individuals remaining. It is certainly one of the rarest of cats, with its entire population contained on one Japanese island.

Source: From Wikipedia & others